Boundaries and borders

Only when an organism shares in the ordered relations of its environment does it secure the stability essential to living.*
(John Dewey)

I think we’re realising quiet is important, and we need silence; that silence is not a luxury, but it’s essential.  It’s essential to our quality of life and being able to think straight.  When we become better listeners to nature, we become better listeners to each other.**
(Gordon Hempton, Sound Tracker®)

Boundaries say, “we are here, you are there,” “that is yours, this is mine.”

They are firm and they define who we are:

‘”Mental models” are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalisations, or even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action.’^

Mental models, though, are not set in stone; we can change them, and we begin at the borders.

Borders are more hopeful: “you have that, I have this – let’s trade.”

In their most extreme extreme forms, borders are where new things emerge, where transformation occurs.  An experience is one thing.  We enter into something for a while and then we leave.   Transformation means something changes for ever.

James Carse would probably encourage us to employ playfulness in order to move from boundaries thinking to borders thinking:

‘To be playful is not to be trivial or frivolous. […] On the contrary, when we are playful to each other we relate as free persons and the relationship is open to surprise.’^^

Boundary thinking can witness several sides looking on the same intractable problem and employing the same old solutions.  Maggie Berg and Barbara Seeber see this in action in universities, helping us to see how boundary thinking sees the other as something to use for our own benefit:

‘Conversation is instrumentalised and colleagues are turned into “either resources or hindrances.”*^

Border imagines the different sides working together to come up with new solutions:

‘There’s no shortage in today’s world of wicked problems wrapped around beautiful questions – meaning that somewhere deep inside that thorny issue, embedded at the core lies an undiscovered question of great value.’^*

See you at the border.

(*John Dewey, quoted in Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman.)
(**Gordon Hempton, quoted in Rohit Bhargava’s Non Obvious 2018.)
(^From Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline.)
(^^From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(*^From Maggie Berg and Barbara Seeber’s The Slow Professor, quoting Frank Martela.)
(^*From Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question.)

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